Friday, September 18, 2009

Ukraine's Constitutional Court enters the relm of polictics

In a rather extraordinary and highly questionable action the chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Andriy Stryzhak, has prejudged the outcome of the President's appeal on the law of Presidential elections.

Andriy Stryzhak, in a statement published by the National Radio of Ukraine, has rebuffed calls by Ukraine's legislators for the Constitutional Court to consider its deliberations before the end of September. Further the chairman of the court expressed his opinion that "the election process will not be broken if presidential election law is declared unconstitutional".

Andriy Stryzhak made it clear that the Constitutional Court would not rule on the new law before the end of the month. Instead of mentioning the fact that the new law remains in force until the Constitutional Court rules otherwise, Stryzhak stated that in the event the law is declared unconstitutional the old presidential election law will be in force. He further stated that the Constitutional Court will not consider the law as a matter of urgency as requested by the President and now the Parliament.

The old law has a 120 day campaign requirement which, if in force, would commence tomorrow (Saturday September 19)

The statement of the court's chairman raises a number of serious issues not the least the extent of bias of the Chairman in prejudging the outcome of the President's appeal, before it is considered by the Court, but also the possibility that the Court has once again entered the realm of politics by not fulling its duty to Ukraine. The Court must consider this as a matter of urgency and any delay would only undermine confidence in the court itself.

The Council of Europe in June this year called on Ukraine to implement changes to the law of the Presidential election so as to ensure that the legislation and conduct of the Presidential election meets recognised international standards.  It is crucial that changes to the law are in place without delay.

The law has been promulgated and remains in place until the Constitutional Court decides otherwise.  The striking out of this law at a crucial time in the election cycle would be detrimental to the election.  The Constitutional Court must consider this an an matter of urgency.  Any delay would be seen as political interference. The Court can not dismiss this issue at the last minute on a technicality as it did on the law of impeachment of the President.

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